The 3 Keys to Effective Digital Fundraising

Date Published

Digital fundraising offers nonprofits a powerful and effective way to reach potential donors and stay in touch with existing ones. All nonprofits can benefit from starting or adding digital direct marketing tactics to their fundraising strategies. No matter your cause, implementing a digital strategy will measurably benefit your fundraising efforts. It is also essential to staying competitive in today’s evolving market.

It is often (and sometimes mistakenly) thought that digital marketing is universally quick, easy, and cheap. While that can be the case, it takes strategic thought, careful planning, and the right media mix at the right time to generate effective and efficient results. You must first pinpoint the right blend of the primary digital marketing components of Paid Search, Social, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and Email. To do this, consider the following three questions: What are my goals? How much can I spend? How much time do I have?

These are the three keys to unlocking your perfect digital marketing media mix.

1.)  Goals – What do you want to achieve?

Before you begin your digital fundraising efforts, identify specifically what you want to achieve. Setting realistic and measurable goals is the only way to succeed with any direct marketing strategy. A digital strategy based on driving donations will be very different from an awareness campaign. The same goes for setting your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) – if you don’t have measurable goals, you won’t be able to accurately determine your campaign’s success.

For example, what if you are just starting out and want to generate a specific number of new donations? You may wish to begin with a paid search campaign. This way when people search for causes your organization supports, they’ll see your ad, land on your page, and ideally make a donation.

But, what if potential donors have already expressed an interest and you want to entice them to become more engaged? In this case, you may want to leverage an Email or Retargeting campaign. This will allow you to provide them with added information on a topic they’ve already demonstrated their interest in.

2.)  Budget – How much $$$ are you willing to invest?

Having a clear understanding of your budget will help you select the right digital strategies for your media mix. Marketing rookies may try to tell you that “Digital strategies are cheap; after all, you are only paying a few dollars (maybe even cents) per click.” NOPE! Starting with the wrong digital strategy can blow through hundreds and even thousands of dollars with little to no return.

If you’re strapped for cash (and what nonprofit has money to burn?) and you’ve set your goals, start with these grassroots digital techniques:

  • To drive donations— build a highly targeted paid search strategy with a fully optimized donation page. This approach can help achieve your goal without requiring you to spend a lot. (BONUS TIP: If you have a highly visual cause, test Facebook lead ads.)
  • To get people to visit your Web page— look at Google Display and Facebook campaigns. Both are great ways to show off your organization and generate a lot of clicks for relatively low spend.
  • To reconnect with existing customers— start an Email Marketing campaign. This is a great way to make the most of your marketing spend. You already have your donors’ information — reengaging them is a great way to make one-time donors turn into advocates for your organization.

When you have more to spend, you have more options. However, throwing money into a poorly planned digital campaign can still result in a waste of spend and low results. Start with a carefully budgeted campaign using the tactics above. Once you settle on a strategy that fits your goals, you can increase your budget.

3.)  Time – How long are you willing to wait for success?

Beginning a digital direct response campaign can be overwhelming. There is a lot of pressure to get results quickly since you are able to see the data change in real time. However, timing is important to ensure the success of your digital campaigns. Making decisions on only a few days of data can cause confusion and hurt your results.

How long you have to drive results is also important factor.

  • If you need fast results or are planning for an event in the near future, a paid search campaign may be best suited for your needs.
  • However, if you are looking to grow and strengthen awareness over a period of months or even years, long-term tactics like SEO might be for you.

When combined with clearly defined goals, well-established budget, and the appropriate time frame, you can achieve success in your digital efforts.


Ignorance is not always bliss. Measuring your digital efforts is essential to keeping you on track toward your goals, budget, and time frame. One of the biggest benefits of a digital direct fundraising campaign is that you can get real-time data. By measuring everything from impressions and clicks to conversions, you can make reactionary changes that improve the strength of your campaigns — while also gaining valuable insights on aspects of your fundraising strategy that you can use to grow tactics, even outside of digital.

Allegiance Fundraising has considerable experience helping clients establish the right strategy for its digital fundraising initiatives and uncovering actionable learning that helps improve your overall fundraising efforts.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help start your next campaign!

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